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The decline of opera's cultural relevancy in pictures

A brilliant collection of data from performances over the last 100 years at The Metropolitan Opera  demonstrates the decline in cultural relevancy in opera in the United States (illustrating patterns found throughout large, influential performing arts organizations in the U.S. more generally).

A few highlights:

1.  Median year of composition of works performed in 1910: 1870.

2.  Median year of composition of works performed in 2014: 1870. No change in 104 years.

3.  In 1910, 50% of all operas performed at The Met had been composed within the past 25 years.  As perspective, to match that today, half of current programming would be composed since 1989 (the actual portion today is less than 5%).

4.  In 1910, 80% of all operas performed at The Met had been composed within the past 50 years. Today, that means that most of their repertoire would be composed since 1964 (the actual current portion is also less than 5%).

5.  The Met has only ever produced a single opera by a female composer. It was in 1903.

If there was ever any doubt that opera as currently practiced is an inherently European art form that never evolved within American culture, check out the graph showing the percentage of American composers featured at The Met over the last 100 years. Or any of the other graphs, it's very sobering data, and our thanks to Suby Raman for putting it together.

It's not too hard to figure out why more people in the U.S. don't go to the opera.


"These Hopeful Machines" - a compelling look at the evolution of electronic music

From Radio New Zealand is These Hopeful Machines: "a six-part series in which James Gardner traces a personal path through the evolving world of electronic music – and meets some of the people who made it happen."

There is some great stuff in each episode, with lots and lots of music:

  • 2: Raindrops In The Sun - New musics rise from the secret projects and surplus junk of World War II.
  • 3: Fag ends and lollipops - Luciano Berio, Bruno Maderna, Italian Radio (Cary, Zinovieff, and Moog), and the legendary BBC Radiophonic Workshop.
  • 4: I was Born to Synthesize - Early development of analogue synthesizers and their rapid spread through experimental composition, popular music, sound effects and advertising, and more.
  • 6: A Dance To The Music of Time - Synthesizer bands of the 70s via hip hop and electronic dance music; laptops and the democratization of music production; what's next?

Don't miss the links, bibliography, and playlists toward the bottom of each episode's page. Really great, comprehensive resources.